What’s beautiful about BodySoul Rhythms is that Marion and the teachers were clear that they didn’t want us to clone ourselves to them. They encouraged us to create work that had our own unique signature on it. My work, Body Dialogue, is informed by the practices I learned in BodySoul Rhythms.
When I came to study with Marion, Mary, Ann and Paula, I had already been a teacher of the Alexander Technique for 20 years. I met them when I was 47, but I had been teaching yoga, qi gong, Alexander Technique, and Breathing Coordination for years before I met them. The most important piece that really pushed me to create the modality of Body Dialogues was a sentence that I learned from Marion in one of the intensives. Marion said, “There is no complete healing in the body if the metaphor and the image that is living within the symptom is not addressed.” And that sentence made me deeply consider how the work I was doing in the Alexander Technique and in Breathing Coordination was informed by the emotional and metaphoric language which was being expressed in the body.
There is no healing in the body if you just deal with the symptom. The symptom is an expression of something being out of alignment. The investigation into what is out of alignment and how it creates a conflict in the Body/Mind/Psyche is what I explore in Body Dialogue.
How did your one-on-one healing practice with Body Dialogue begin to shift as a result of your studies with BodySoul Rhythms? What problem were you solving when you started working with this new information?
The Alexander Technique is concerned with dynamic alignment, creating conscious control vs. a habitual control of thinking, but it didn’t address the emotional roots of some of the symptoms showing up. I started working with people one-on-one and noticed that we could heal or begin to explore some of the alignment and postural patterns. But I was never satisfied that that was the whole story. Whenever we began a session, I would ask the student to notice what was being presented to them. For some of them, there was no interest in investigation. They just wanted to be “fixed” and to feel better. But over time, if the student kept coming back, they would start to notice a change in their thinking.
For instance, one student who worried about everything. At some point in her sessions, her nervous system started to relax, her breathing became more easy and she felt less threatened to be in her body. That began the conversation that was possible because she had a different reference point in her felt sense. Could she trust letting go of the worry as a way of feeling safe in her body and the world?
Another student was so self conscious that her breathing was shallow that she kept trying to make her breath deeper. The more she worked at making her breath deeper, the more she exacerbated her feeling of breathlessness and her experience of never getting a full breath. When we investigated some of the emotional and mental pressures she was under, it became obvious that she had so many expectations pressuring her to perform a certain way, that really at the root of the breathing problem was her sense that she would never measure up to what people expected from her. So the breathing issue was a symptom, but the cause was emotional. Even if she did pranyama or kundalini yoga, she might get relief for that hour, but could that awareness help to shift her habitual pattern of grasping for air and feeling defeated?
What kind of people are attracted to your work?
One of my greatest pleasures is teaching young artists, particularly performing artists such as musicians, dancers, and actors. I begin with the principles of the Alexander Technique, such as the principle “energy follows thought”. That phrase that Alexander based his work on is only helpful to performers if I can give them one-on-one hands on direction. The hands-on work provides them with an experience of ease and release and expansion, but as soon as we talk about performance, the mental condition of being a performer makes it difficult for them to stay with the direction. Body Dialogue allows them a new experience. That new experience becomes a benchmark for a different reference point. Performing artists in particular need to be a channel for a kind of mental and emotional clarity in order to be available for their craft. I apply the same principles to anyone I work with, and any small groups, but it is gratifying when you work with an artist and they actually see the results right there in that moment.
I like doing practicums with other body workers. Massage therapists come to me because they burn out physically and emotionally. No one taught them to listen to their own emotional and physical patterns in the session. Often these patterns interfere with being available for the client. In BodySoul Rhythms, I became acutely aware of the fact that we are manifestations of energy so that when we find ourselves in a complex as C.G. Jung described in his writings, we can apply this process of witnessing that I use in my work in Body Dialogue.
Perhaps the most satisfying part of being a teacher of Body Dialogue is I am always tapping into my own creativity and form of self expression, so my healing becomes an improvisation. I like helping oher practitioners find that kind of joy and pleasure in the exploration, not the end result.
How is Body Dialogue a practice of the conscious feminine?
The beauty of BodySoul Rhythms is that we were encouraged to trust in the divine flow that we call the “Conscious Feminine”. We were instructed over and over again that living in the unknown and being willing to hear what isn’t being spoken is the trust that is required to work with clients. To be present with love and acceptance is what is needed to facilitate a step in someone’s evolution on the spiral. When we completely surrender to that knowing, we take that awareness into everything we do. All the work we did in BodySoul Rhythms continually encouraged us to practice from a place of curiosity. When Mary, Ann, Paula, and Marion were creating BodySoul Rhythms during their times together in Canada, they were shining a light that allowed this quality of experimentation to emerge organically.
When Marion taught theater in high school and Mary taught dance, they were drawing on their skills as teachers, but they didn’t have answers for their students. They were inviting their students into exploration and trusting their own knowledge. That is the conscious feminine. In today’s world, we talk about triggers. In Jungian psychology, we call that a “complex”. In bodywork, I might call it an “energy cyst” but in all three instances, there is energy that is blocked. Staying with the energy, breathing into the stuckness, allows for something to transform. That is the work of the conscious feminine. Allowing and engaging in the presence of our shared divinity.
What is your energetic signature?
Body Dialogue is a practice of present moment awareness that allows us to journey into the unknown BODY MIND SPIRIT and SOUL. We draw on all our creativity to express our living reality. The skills we practice become tools for daily life.